Tuesday, January 30, 2007


(Photo credit: blogger Mike and his shoes)

After hearing from fans of screwed shoes over the years and marveling at their success at this weekend's Winter Buckeye Trail 50k, I finally got screwed.

Here's how I did it. Materials: About 30 sheet metal screws (#6, 1/2 inch long,) cordless drill, and an awl to punch little starter holes. I placed 15 screws around the edges of each shoe and did not bother with the middle. Unlike the above photo, I avoided the areas near the balls and heels in the middle of the shoe. After an initial test run, I could feel a screw on the bottom of my foot, so I removed and replaced that one screw. Since then, the screwed shoes have worked like a charm.

Sunday's run: 10 miles on snow and ice covered sidewalks and paths. No problems with my screwed shoes. Amazing traction and total control on the slick surfaces. I did, however, find myself shunning the open and cleared roads for more icy, snowy (and softer) surfaces.

Thanks to Matt Carpenter for his link and also to members of the NE Ohio Trail Running Club for showing me screwed shoes.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Week of January 21-27

Sun: Run 5 miles
Mon: Swim 2500 yards
Tue: Run 8.25
Wed: Run 6
Thur: Run 8
Fri: Rest
Sat: Run 9 miles (trail); volunteered at the winter BT50k

Run: 36 miles (5 hrs 13 min)
Swim: 2500 yards (54 min)

Still working on the daily physical therapy stretches. No pain with the slight increase in volume (36 miles) and frequency (5 runs) last week, so the plan moves forward. The PT recommended adjusting the frequency to every-other-day. I can live with that.

The news of the week is that registration opened for the Bull Run Run on April 14. The race is so popular that it appears the entry list will fill its cap of 350 runners in less than one week. Good news is I'm in! The race is the same weekend as the Boston Marathon so I look forward to training along with my fast training buds for the next 12 weeks.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Winter" Buckeye Trail 50km

The last weekend in January means that its time for the "Winter" Buckeye Trail 50km fun-run. This year marks the 10th anniversary of this winter classic.

A decade ago and during the infancy of the Summer "BT50km," a few local runners decided to tackle a wintery ultra-distance romp through the Cuyahoga Valley. This tradition continued through the years, carried on by the core of local ultrarunners, on a course similar to the Summer 50km. Led by local ultra veterans Tanya Cady and Roy Heger, last year's Winter BT50km has taken on a new course and new cause.

The course changed from the traditional out-and-back route of the summer classic to now a double-loop route starting and ending at the Boston Store. Loop A measures 5 miles and heads up to Brandywine Falls and back. Loop B is more familar to BT aficioanados. It measures 8 miles and travels the familar trail from Boston Store to the the Pine Lane Parking lot and back. While the run is of a "fun-run" nature, the x-factor remains the potential for severe winter weather. With the new loop course design, runners can opt for the distance of their choosing--half marathon, marathon, or 50 km. The loops repeat as required until the desired distance is met.

Personally, I've only been around NE Ohio going on 4 years now and year 2004 was the scene of my first winter experience on the BT. That day brought frigid 10F temperatures along with 2-3 feet of fresh powder snow. Yet to try an ultra, I set out to go 25km. What a humbling experience. Within an hour, my legs burned from snow-slogging and my water bottle froze into a solid unhelpful hunk of ice. Stuck in the woods, tired and cold with nothing to drink, I desparately stuffed that ice block in my jacket in a feable attempt to thaw the bottle in order to get a sip. On that day 50km runners took 2-4 hours longer than on a normally clear trail. I failed that day to reach my 25km goal.

Times have changed. Today, the Winter 50km has become a full-fledged "event" that raises funds for several causes. Also known as the "Run for Regis Shivers," a portion of the proceeds go towards a college scholarship in his name. Any remaining proceeds goes towards the Cincinnati Veteran's Administration "Fisher House," an organization that provides temporary lodging to family members of ill-stricken veterans. Regis' battle with throat cancer is ongoing, yet his inspiration can be found throughout the day. He's constantly popping up on the course to cheer (if not run a few miles.)

The combination of the new course, the race direction of Tanya Cady, and the "Run for Regis," has transformed the once small winter 50km into a wildly popular event. For the second consecutive year, the entries are sold out. Over 125 runners are expected at the 7:00am start.

The buzz: There's a rumor there's a few hardy and adventurous types striving for for a double-BT50k this weekend, a-la Hellgate 100km. The idea is to run the first 50k through the night and arrive at the start with enough time to warm up, refuel, and join in with the main race. Such a feat requires braving the elements for upwards of 15 or more hours. Brrrrr. I wish them well.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Week of January 14-20

Sun: Run 35 min (4 mi)
Mon: Swim 43 min (2100 yds)
Tue: Run 36 min (4.25 mi)
Wed: Swim 37 min (1500 yds)
Thur: Run 35 min (4.25 mi)
Fri: Rest; Physical Therapy Appt.
Sat: Run 73 min (8.75mi)

(Devoted 20 minutes of grunting and groaning each day to Physical Therapy stretches.)

Run: 21 miles (2:59)
Swim: 3600 yards (1:17)
Stationary Bike: 25 minutes
Stretching: 2 hours
Weightlifting: 55 minutes

On the running front, this exploratory week tested the physical therapy. It seems to be working, so far. Fresh off the PT appointment the previous week, my task was to stretch and strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. I was advised to start with short 30 minute runs to determine the pain threshold. After three successful short runs through the week, I tested it out for an hour run on the weekend. Good news so far: no pain. The plan is to progress in the upcoming week with a little added distance/volume.

It's been so exciting to get my swim groove on. What is it with taking 30 minutes to get warmed up? As with running, the swim is similar in that I seem to find a zone at around the 25-30 minute mark. There's a point where the mind and body stops thinking of the labor and gets in the groove where the swimming and breathing comes effortlessly. After finding this zone, its amazing how the mind is allowed to wander. Slowly, I'm getting better at breathing. And flip-turns. I don't ever think I'll become a full-fledged swimmer--I still like hanging on the wall and catching my breath. In previous years, I've used swimming as a once-per-week crosstraining session of 20-40 minutes max. Back then, I was working too hard at it and was never able to find that groove in the pool.

Now that our YMCA's pool reopened this year, I'd like to continue with the weekly swimming to augment the running. On my list of 2007 goals, I'm adding the goal of swimming at least one mile per week. Seems like a soft goal, but I'm going for consistency. Who knows? A triathlon this year?

All-in-all, a good week. A stepping-stone on the road to recovery. Here's to another steady week.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How to run 100 miles?

I've been asked this question recently, but how would I know?

With the inaugural Burning River 100 Mile race coming to town this August, I've received several of these inquiries.

The closest I've come to the experience are the few times I've "paced," other runners at both the Mohican and the Massanutten Trail 100 mile races. One thing I do know is that it requires running into and through the night. There's no doubt that night navigation skills will make-or-break one's success in surviving the distance.

Each race has its own rules. Generally, pacers can join their runner at around mile 60, or when the clock nears sunset. It's been my pleasure to accompany, or pace, these ultrarunners. Each trip had its own special moments. In my experience, if nothing else except for the additional light, pacers are invaluable to help the runner stay awake and make it through the night. Especially if they go the final 35-40 miles together as a team. I digress.

I'm trying to answer this very question for myself as I dream of running this absurd distance. I imagine there is no one single way to train for a hundred. But there's a ton good info out there on the net. For starters, I point out websites like Stan Jensen's Run 100s and Kevin Sayer's Ultra Running Resource.

The research is ongoing, but so far I've really enjoyed Dave Bursler's article "How to run 100 miles." He broke it down in a way where I can actually wrap my head around the task.

So, I say to anyone interested in the local 100s such as Mohican or Burning River, these sites are a good starting point for information.

At some point thereafter, stop reading and start running.

But then again, how would I know?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thought of the day

...invoked by the editorial of Richard Benyo in the November/December 2006 issue of Marathon and Beyond.

"It is true that we long-distance runners feel we come from a common mold, that we are solitary animals, running for the sake of running, fulfilling the bred-in-the-bone need of our ancient ancestors to move, to enrich the blood, to buoy the spirit, to steam clean the brain, to allow the muscles to realize their physiological potential. We also feel that so much sweat-purifying effort washes us clean of aggressiveness, belligerence, and pride."

No arguments here. After a run, I feel clearer of mind, invigorated yet tempered, and generally uplifted.

Today's run: Cold and clear 22F at 6AM. 4.25 miles easy, 35 minutes. No pain.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Learning to stretch

The P.T. is a P.I.T.A.


After lollygagging for two weeks, I finally made it to the Physical Therapist for the Pes Anserine Bursitis. I'm now doing a daily set of exercises that works on--of all places--my butt. In reality, its not the PT who's to blame. Rather, its me for resisting placing the call to the PT for help.

Two weeks later I came to the appointment well rested. Having only run 3 times in the preceding 18 days, the area of pain was not irritated. I received instruction for a few specific exercises:

* Clams - Hold 5 seconds. Repeat 15 times.
* Bridge - Hold 10 seconds. 15x.
* Bent Knee Hip Extension (The real PITA) - Hold 5 seconds. 15x.
* Seated Hamstring stretch - Hold 30 seconds. 1-2x.

The Bent Knee Hip Extension: Lie down on stomach with hands at side. Bend leg at knee, with lower leg pointing straight up. This is start position. For exercise, raise hip up and hold 5 seconds. Repeat 15x.

While I understood that the Pes Anserine is associated with the hamstring, I didn't expect my physical therapy exercises to be a pain in the butt. Three out of four of these exercises focus on the glutes. I guess its just counterintuitive; that the pain resides in my lower leg, yet the approach is to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes.

The pain is a good pain. But this stretching thing is hard work. More difficult than running. Really. Those Bent Knee Hip Extensions cause more grunts and groans than I care to admit.

I'm amazed at what just a little bit of instruction can do. My PT taught me a better way to stretch/isolate the hamstrings. I also asked for something that could be done while at work; he gave me a seated hamstring stretch that I'm able to do while sitting at my desk.

Its been only four short days since starting the PT, but I feel its helping. Since I had no pain, it was suggested to start running. So I have. Included with the daily stretches, I've now run twice for about 30 minutes each. No signs of pain. While the outlook is good, I plan to take it easy for a few more runs. I have another visit with both the PT this week and the Doctor next.

This year hasn't started out like recent years and I'm a bit behind on building a base. And that's okay. While its really easy for me to start dreaming of the future and getting ahead of myself, on this day I'm still taking this injury one day at a time. For today, I'm learning how to stretch.

Now if I can only learn to do a flip-turn...

In other developments...

Only 16 days into the new year, I've eclipsed my scant 2006 swim mileage (5.4 miles.) In six swims so far in '07, I'm at 5.7 miles with long swims of 2000 and 2100 yards (new distance PR.) Swimming at our city's brand new YMCA is chaotic, but that's a story for another day.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

H.U.R.T. 100 Mile


Got nothing to do on a Sunday? Go to the blog for the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team and check out the year's first 100 Mile race:

- H.U.R.T. Trail 100 Mile
- Course Map
- Elevation profile here

The race started at 6am Saturday (11am ET.) With a 36 hour time limit, all participants must finish no later than 6pm on Sunday local time. The first race updates were just posted.

The course, situated on the south end of Oahu, is reputed to put a HURTing on its participants with a gnarly 20 mile trail loop. Within its 5 loops, the course touts 25,000 feet of elevation gain on slippery and rooty terrain.

With a quick look at the entry list, one can see a slew of quality ultrarunners. Of special note: One of the entrants is Jody C. from Arizona, whom I had the honor of running (pacing) with, at her very first century run at the 2004 Mohican Trail 100. She's since turned into a seasoned 100 mile ultrarunner. Good luck Jody. Also racing is another blogger recently added to my sidebar, Krissy Moehl from Seattle.

Best wishes. It sounds like a tough run.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Time off

For the first time in four years, I'm taking time off from running. After ending 2006 with a few days off, I thought the leg bursitis had subsided and that a few days of rest would do the trick.

Not so.

After three short runs to start the year, the leg pain became irritated again. In the middle of my last run on January 4th, all it took was a gentle downhill grade to irritate the leg. Something was, and is not right.

So I've stopped.

This place is foreign to me. I had to go back to my log to see when the last time I've took substantial time off. Aside from the post-JFK ankle sprain, I've not taken more than two consecutive days off in four whole years. I've been lucky, I suppose.

So here I am, grounded. Its been hard to put words on this page. I'm in the midst of my very first sidelining injury. Having run only 3 times in the last 15 days--when normal to me is 5-7 runs per week--I feel like I'm moving past the denial stage and accepting that my body needs this time off.

I miss my daily run.

The frustrating aspect to this bursitis is the fleeting pain. It comes and goes with no logical reason. Most times, my leg feels normal. I've even run down the street to catch the bus with no pain. At other moments and from out of nowhere, the soreness crops up. Although I could try, I know that I cannot sustain a run of any distance.

As of now, I have no idea when I can start again. Reluctantly, I must put my running plans on hold. The next step is a visit to the physical therapist's office later this week.

I can't think of a tidy way to conclude this post. This time off from running has created turmoil within. So...without delving too deep into the psyche of this distance runner, I'm coping with my abstinence and I pledge to come back and write more about this foreign experience.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

And the fortune cookie said...

"An exciting opportunity lies ahead if you are not timid."

To be continued...

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Day

Happy New Year 2007.

Started the year off with a hangover run. Joined the Cleveland West Road Runners down in the metroparks for 7.5 miles in 62 minutes.

Injury report: After the bursitis cropped up last week, I took an entire week off from running, ending 2006 on a non-running streak. I received a set of stretching exercises aimed at strengthening the hamstrings and legs. The good news: No bursitis pain for several days now, nor any pain during today's run. I'm going to take it easy and monitor the bursitis before increasing the miles. I have a follow-up appointment with the doc at the end of the month.

I attribute this injury to the lack or absence of stretching in my routine. I'm no spring chicken anymore. Is 20 minutes of stretching per day such a high price to pay for good health? Look for more stretching, particularly for the hamstrings, in the new year.

Based on the circumstances, I'm passing on next Saturday's FA 50k. I'm slightly bummed, since I had my sights set to run with a couple guys and gals. Sigh. The important issue is that I get completely healthy before progressing to the high milage.

Click here for new race log.

What's new on the blog? Keep on the lookout for new links in the sidebar. The 2007 run log switched over to a fresh new site, while years 2005-06 remain available. The current project is my race log. Its huge, and a work in progress. Its going to take some time to track down all the race reports and get the links just right.

After getting settled into the new year, I look forward to making the 2007 goals.